County declares border disaster



As smuggling incidents rise, county officials seek aid

Human smuggling cases involving vehicle pursuits continue to plague Uvalde County, with several more occurring last weekend. Uvalde County Commissioners on Monday declared a state of local disaster due to the upsurge in illegal immigration.

County Judge Bill Mitchell said a declaration of local disaster readies the county to receive funding, if a state or federal disaster declaration is issued and assistance become available.

“We are seeing a drain on local law enforcement resources and on our county budget. We also have county residents that are fearful of their safety, the safety of their families, and have concerns over the welfare of their property,” Mitchell said.

Demonstrating the need for the declaration, after multiple chases resulted in bailouts this weekend, City Mayor Don McLaughlin Jr. went live on Facebook Friday night to warn residents to lock their doors and be aware, as law enforcement combed the city for fleeing fugitives in the areas of Canales Street, North Claudia Street and Modesta Street. Helicopters were also utilized in the search and apprehension efforts.

“We had several car chases come into town at one time. They bailed out in different neighborhoods. Law enforcement is out, and has caught most of these people, but be safe, if you see anything suspicious don’t hesitate to call law enforcement,” McLaughlin said.

“This is getting crazier and crazier and crazier and we keep complaining about it, but we don’t seem to be getting anywhere with it,” he said, stating numerous chases occurred in about a 15 minute span of time. McLaughlin has been reaching out to federal government officials and has appeared twice on Fox News broadcasts regarding the surge in human smuggling.

Pursuits, arrests

Uvalde Police Department, Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers made five arrests over the weekend on charges of human smuggling, some for multiple counts of the charge

Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco continues to warn area residents to be cautious on Farm to Market Road 481, which intersects with U.S. Highway 90 near the cemetery. Many people travel on FM 481 when headed to Eagle Pass.

Saturday morning deputies assisted USBP agents in an early morning pursuit on FM 481, and the driver was apprehended. Two immigrants believed to have entered the U.S illegally were apprehended but two others are believed to have fled the scene.

On Thursday, a male driver and female passenger from Kyle in a white Isuzu box truck were stopped for a traffic violation on Farm to Market Road 481 around 10:32 p.m. and discovered to be transporting 17 passengers inside the trucks cargo area. The passengers were determined to be undocumented immigrants and released into the custody of U.S. Border Patrol agents.

County declaration

The county disaster declaration reads, “The health, safety and welfare of residents of Uvalde County is being jeopardized due to the increase in human trafficking occurring along the border between the United States of America and Mexico; and the increase in illegal aliens in Uvalde County is overwhelming our local, state and federal law enforcement causing a depletion of local resources including local budgets; and residents of Uvalde County are fearful of violence and have been victims of property theft and property damage.

It continues, “The public health and safety of Uvalde County residents is under threat of disaster from an elevated risk to unknown variants of COVID-19 resulting from those illegally crossing the international border and the limited resources of Uvalde County can not adequately furnish the necessary procedures and facilities for test and quarantining the illegal aliens who may be infected with COVID-19 or an unknown variant; and the Uvalde County Commissioners Court has determined an extra ordinary measure must be taken to ensure the protection of the health, safety and welfare of Uvalde County residents.”

It says that the declaration activates the Uvalde County emergency management plan, and requests that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott provide state resources to aid the county and assist local law enforcement agencies.

The disaster declaration was unanimously approved during a Zoom teleconference meeting held at 10 a.m.

jkeeble@ulnnow.com, 830-278-3335

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